5 Common Elements For Boho Chic Style

May 09, 2020

One of the most popular recent trends in decor has been boho chic.

But what is it, exactly? And how can you get that look?

Boho is short for bohemian. Its original meaning was somewhat derogatory, referring to the Roma gypsies of Bohemia, a former kingdom within Czechoslovakia.

During the 1850s, it came to mean a movement of artists and poets who lived outside mainstream life, eschewing conventionality.

Since the 1960s it has been typically bandied around as a description for rock stars, artists and movie stars who are rebellious, non-conformist, promiscuous and a bit louche.

Sienna Miller is boho-chic, as is Stevie Nicks. Keith Richards is a gold-standard representative member, Russell Brand is another classic example. The late, great Michael Hutchence of INXS was most definitely a bohemian.

So in decorating, boho chic gives you quite a bit of room to move, stylistically. It pairs unusual, eye-catching, and unexpected elements together.

It can veer from granny chic and rustic natural to flamboyantly decadent and Arabian Nights.

It is easier to define boho chic by what it is not
Boho chic is not matchy-matchy: it revels in the curious and exotic and transports you to another world. There are no boho chic events at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

It is not refined nor sophisticated but it is multi-layered and a sensory feast.

You might be sitting on a Moroccan leather pouffe, a fur-covered pallet bench or on a bentwood chair but a boho chic event never takes place on a standard-issue grey polyester, oval-backed venue dining chair. This is not the time for fine white linen and standard-issue silver candlesticks.

Your boho chic event may be outdoors, in a tipi, an industrial warehouse, artists studio, old schoolhouse or barn, but it will never suit a five-star hotel function room.

Here's five common elements typical of the boho chic decorating style for your next event.

Communal table
Communal long wooden dining tables are the ideal furniture option, whether they're low-slung picnic tables for guests to dine seated on rugs and cushions, on pallet benches strewn with blankets, bentwoods or bamboo folding chairs. Ideally the wood of the communal table is stunning enough in its own right to be freely exposed, even if partially covered by a macrame table runner. But the antithesis of boho chic is the traditional round banquet table, even more so if it is white plastic.

Animal elements
Virtually every boho chic look involves some kind of animal-related feature. The decorating style commonly includes antlers as centrepieces and/or feathers adorning the foliage; less often, but just as effectively, it employs skulls or taxidermy.

Think fins, fur, feathers, scales, horns and leather. It can refer to animals with napkins and tablecloths made of, or printed with, faux fur. 

Boho-chic involves copper, gold, bronze, brass, or pewter candle holders and/or vases. Yet it pulls back from the overtly bling factor you might imagine for a Kardashian product launch and uses it sparingly and to great effect. Standard silver cutlery looks a bit flat here.

This look is enhanced with the warmth of gold, brass, bronze, copper or iridescent cutlery. Candelabras, candlesticks and votives are typically burnished, suggesting antiquity OR they are sparing and modern in shape.

Boho chic revels in layers upon layers of texture. Start with a rich wood-grain communal table, add a central cotton macrame table runner, place down rattan charger plates, flank them with brushed gold cutlery, insert amber pressed glass goblets, position a long low bronze bowl spiked with peacock feathers, florals and pampas grass, dot the table with gold candlesticks  of varying coloured dinner candles, drape long cotton or velvet napkins, add agate napkin rings and so on.

Employ at least five distinct textures from a list including but not excluded to acrylic, bone, china, fabric, feathers, florals, foliage, glass, leather, metal, mirror, paper, stone, wax candles and wood.

Elements tend to be natural rather than exclusively man-made. Steer clear of 80s day-glow neon touches.

Lastly, while boho chic has a naughty rebelliousness about it and typically includes a combination of decor you don't see outside of Instagram, boho chic lends itself more towards fantasy woodland than coastal beach, and towards luxe opulence rather than sophisticated modern glitz.

It can veer in style from a suggestion of Alice in Wonderland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party to an exotic Arabian tent, from a pared-back neutral tablescape to a darker, decadent, Game of Thrones feast.

Imagine each table is a curated feast for the senses, full of items to touch, smell, see, hear and taste. What pieces will make your guests gasp on arrival?

Enjoyed this? Discover 5 ways to decorate communal tables.